Political Entrepreneurship, or: How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love Obamacare (Part II)

Top Accident and Health Insurers

  Continuing on with a two-part series on what defensive strategies to take in dealing with the new or modified reality of Obamacare. Part 1 can be found here. Definition of political entrepreneurship, by author Thomas DiLorenzo as quoted on Wikipedia: "a political entrepreneur succeeds primarily by influencing government to subsidize his business or industry, or to enact legislation or regulation that harms his competitors." He says, in contrast, the "market entrepreneur succeeds financially by selling a newer, better, or less expensive product on the free market without any government subsidies, direct or indirect." Cui Bono? In the context of political entrepreneurship, or entrepreneurship alone, it's just about the … [Read more...]

Why Does Gas Cost So Much in California?

Old Gas Pump in Savannah Georgia.  Author: Lukelastic from Wikimedia Project.

More unintentionally humorous content from the mainstream media on politically charged issues.   This from one of America's newspapers of record, the LA Times: Tesoro plan to buy Arco gets more scrutiny amid gas-price surge As California gasoline prices set fresh records daily, consumer advocates are gearing up to fight the sale of the low-cost Arco brand and its Carson refinery to a Texas company not known for its cheap fuel. Some experts are calling the proposed $2.5-billion sale to Tesoro Corp. of San Antonio the biggest shift in California's petroleum business in decades. Activists say the deal, announced in August, would reduce competition and possibly raise prices for motorists, and they will ask state and federal regulators … [Read more...]

Cut Out That Middleman! Buying Local Saves You Money

Potatoes grown in the Dieng Plateau (****) (Photo by Midori)

  Never pay retail. Here's a good lesson in reductive economics (*), from the Wall Street Journal blog, a grass-roots movement in Greece: Potato Movement Takes Root as Recession Bites (**) Angry over food prices that keep rising even as Greece stumbles through a fifth straight year of recession, ordinary Greeks have teamed up with local farmers in a new grass-roots consumer movement to bring potatoes and other basic foodstuffs to market by cutting out the middle men. The middle men being price-fixing wholesalers and supermarket chains, who enjoyed immense markups from the wholesale price all the way to retail: The roots of the movement date back to late last year, when farmers in the northern Greek district of Nevrokopi … [Read more...]

Random Dividend Thoughts and Stupid Taxes

BONDS I have relatives that live in Alpharetta, Georgia. Great little town. Daytime population about 120,000, shrinking down to 57,000 residents in the evening.  Where to all those people go at night?  Back home, that's where.  Alpharetta has a nifty business model, having transformed itself in a few years from rural backwater to corporate refugee ghetto for companies seeking to relocate to a lower-tax jurisdiction.  The message from the city elders to corporations seems to be a simple one:  "come on down, we promise not to pluck you too badly".   Corporate branches or headquarters and numbers of employees include the … [Read more...]

A Taxing Set of Mid-Week Random Links

Random Doodle #30

Looking back on posts, I realized that I neglected to do a roundup of random links last weekend. It's become such a part of established blogging routine, that I feel a little out of sorts. On Taxes... This Associated Press  headline was the kind to make you stock and smack your forehead: IRS: Budget cuts would hurt service, raise deficit WASHINGTON (AP) -- (Oct 17, 2011) Legislation that would trim hundreds of millions of dollars from the Internal Revenue Service budget would force significant cuts in the services it provides taxpayers and cost the government $4 billion annually in lost revenue, the agency warned Congress on Monday. In a letter to lawmakers, IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman said the budget cuts "would lead … [Read more...]

Can Taxes Kill?

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard

Governments love taxes revenue, the little people love it when you soak the rich, and corporations just make bottom-line calculations. This is especially true when governments consider windfall profit taxes. Some of the more unscrupulous governments such as Venezuela merely expropriate producing assets. Chavez's government did just that with Crystallex International's (KRY) gold mines a couple years back. They nationalized the mines, and thanks very much Crystallex for doing all the hard work. Other Western governments, more wise cunning and sophisticated devious in the ways of extracting revenue from industry, do it through windfall taxes. As commodity prices soared in 2009 and 2010, the Administration of Australian Prime Minister … [Read more...]

Yakezie Blog Swap 4 – My Biggest Financial Pet Peeve: Sales Tax

This is a guest post from Miss T, who blogs at Prairie EcoThrifter. Miss T. grew up in the Canadian prairies and still lives there today. She is passionate about saving money, being healthy, looking out for our environment, and most of all having fun. Her blog shares tips on how you too can live a green, debt free, and fun life.  Please read my own guest post at Miss T's. This week I am participating in a Yakezie blog swap where I am to answer the question "My Biggest Financial Pet Peeve." We all have those little things in life that drive us bonkers, even when it comes to our finances. For me, my biggest financial pet peeve is sales tax. Now to start off I need to clarify that I am not against paying sales tax. I know that this … [Read more...]

401K Loans: good idea or bad idea?

Is taking out a loan against your 401(k) retirement plan a good idea, or a daft looney-tunes crackpot personal finance move? A short web search will disgorge dozens of articles that argue for the latter.  There are some advantages, but the general conclusions is that the cons outweigh the pros. Advantages include no credit checks (you're borrowing from yourself), the interest rate is usually low, about one or two points above prime, and perhaps the nicest thing, the interest you're paying is to yourself, it goes right back into the 401K and is tax-deferred until withdrawal time.    Read More .... … [Read more...]

A penny saved is more than a penny earned

Benjamin Franklin and Poor Richard’s Almanack is probably the first reference that springs to mind when hearing the original saying.  Back in the (good ol') days of no income tax, no sales taxes, and few if any excise taxes, a penny saved was indeed a whole penny earned. Fast forward to today, and we have the burden of federal and state income taxes,  general sales taxes,  and special excise taxes on your cable and utilities bills. Fuel taxes and taxes on toll roads and highways.  Sin taxes on cigarettes and alcohol.  You’re taxed when registering a new or used car or truck or boat, or buying a plane ticket.  Taxed again when renting a car or staying in a hotel.  Taxed on your property.  Paying a phone bill.  On and on and … [Read more...]